From running a uranium exploration company in Ethiopia, to rolling out the Malaysian fibre broadband network, and leading McKinsey & Company projects globally for a decade, Tatau’s CEO Andrew Fraser has been pushing boundaries his entire career. Joining with four other Co-Founders to form Tatau in 2017, Andrew was appointed company CEO in August this year. A naturally curious character who reads a lot but avoids business manuals, Andrew thrives on learning new skills and finding practical and efficient ways to solve challenges.
Married with two young children, Andrew lists parenthood as his most rewarding role. We cornered him earlier this week and asked him a few questions.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My number one priority is my family, so I look forward to giving my kids a cuddle in the morning.
Apart from that, it might sound cheesy but I am genuinely excited about the work we’re doing at Tatau. Our mission is to help our customers innovate faster. In doing that we’re allowing companies to do more, more efficiently and I really enjoy seeing the impact that is having on innovators in the AI space.
I’m also really inspired by the broader impact our work has on improving the way people will live. For example, we are able to help improve the way autonomous vehicles drive, accelerate the speed with which new drugs are discovered, and make smart cities smarter. It’s incredibly rewarding to work in an area that’s positively impacting so many industries and, as a consequence, so many people.
Why is Tatau’s distributed compute platform a game-changer for the AI industry?
To build a successful product you have to do things cheaper or better than the incumbents. Not only does the Tatau platform address a true market need for reliable compute, it’s also incredibly cost-effective. Because we don’t have the commitments and return on infrastructure requirements that centralised data centres do, we’re delivering compute at half the price of that provided by traditional suppliers. We are also relentlessly customer focussed, and keep our AI customers at the heart of all that we do.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Bruce Willis — because who doesn’t love Bruce? Plus, we practically have the same haircut and body shape.
Who has inspired you as you’ve progressed through your career?
I’ve been fortunate to have learned from many wise and inspiring mentors right throughout my life. My time at McKinsey & Company was a huge influence. It was both a great place to learn and an opportunity to work with smart, motivated and inspiring people. It also really taught me about the importance of diversity of thought.
I’ve also been very cognisant of the advice of John Wooden. He led UCLA — where my wife and I both studied — to 10 Basketball National Championships, and is widely considered the most successful US college coach. He always stood on the principles of being good to people first, and operating with honesty, loyalty, and integrity. I have worked hard to emulate that.
What life event had the most impact on you as a person?
My time in Ethiopia has, with hindsight, had a huge impact on how I view both success and failure. During my time there, my business partner and I both agreed that if either of us became ill, we would get on the first plane home to seek appropriate medical attention. I started to feel a bit unwell, flew home, but only made it as far as Sydney before I was kicked off the plane and diagnosed with malaria and bilharzia. The road to recovery was long and difficult, but during that time I met my wife, which obviously changed my life in ways no job or travel ever could. I firmly believe everything happens for a reason, and now see both success and failure as a stepping stone to an ultimately positive outcome.
What do you love the most about being a leader?
I love working with the Tatau team. I find it personally satisfying to encourage people to be all they can be and help give guidance they can bring into their futures. I’m really enjoying my role as CEO of a startup. We’re making significant decisions on a frequent basis about how Tatau will operate and how we will enable AI companies to innovate faster. And we’re disrupting some huge industries. I’m firmly convinced we have the product and the people to make a difference, and I gain a great deal of pride helping us do that.
What is a passion of yours outside of work?
I love American football. When we lived in the US I would go to as many Carolina Panthers games as I could. While I’m rarely at a live game I’m still an avid fan and a director of the New Zealand American Football Federation. And whole fish, I love whole fish, and I spend many date nights searching out Auckland’s best whole fish restaurant.
I’ve heard that you’re a big fan of WWE (professional wrestling). Who’s your favorite current wrestler and why?
Although I’ve been told I have a passing resemblance to Braun Strowman, my favorite wrestler is the Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose.